Commentary

Stories and snapshots from Hockey Hall of Fame weekend

Updated: November 11, 2008, 2:04 PM ET
By Scott Burnside | ESPN.com

TORONTO -- The Hockey Hall of Fame induction weekend concluded Monday night with the induction of players Igor Larionov and Glenn Anderson, linesman Ray Scapinello and junior hockey builder Ed Chynoweth.

Here are some snapshots from Monday's ceremony and the weekend of festivities:

Oh, those Hall of Fame butterflies
All of the honorees were asked to describe the moment they found out they were going into the Hall. Anderson said he thought someone was playing a practical joke on him after Hall of Fame staffer Kelly Masse told him to phone a specific number and no one answered. Then, he tried another number and it was a wrong number.

Finally, Anderson got through and received the good news as he was going to pick up his daughter, Autumn, from school.

Was she excited? While her dad tried to tell her his news, Autumn interrupted to tell him she had set some butterflies free in Central Park. Then, she asked her dad if he finished the laundry and did the dishes.

In the days leading up to the induction ceremony, Anderson joked that Autumn was helping him with his speech and, sure enough, when he walked onto the stage, his daughter ran out to hand him the speech. The 6-year-old then joked she was here to watch her dad cry. He didn't disappoint as Anderson delivered an emotional tribute that included heartfelt thanks to former coaches Father David Bauer and Glen Sather, and former teammates Wayne Gretzky, Kevin Lowe and Mark Messier.

Chynoweth sons honor father
This special weekend was shot through with emotion for the family of Chynoweth, who was inducted into the builders' category. Chynoweth played a pivotal role in the evolution of the Western Hockey League, and junior hockey as a whole, in North America. He died this past April, not long before he was announced as part of the 2008 class.

His son Jeff said Monday his father knew he'd been nominated, but couldn't hang on for the announcement.

Jeff Chynoweth, who won a Memorial Cup working with his father for the Kootenay Ice (they worked together for 13 years), said he's wrestled with trying to speak about his father so soon after his death. One helpful suggestion made by Hall director Jim Gregory was to watch a tape of the speech given by Dan Brooks, the son of the late Herb Brooks, when the "Miracle on Ice" coach was inducted in 2006.

Chynoweth joked that he broke down the speech just like he might have broken down game tape. Jeff delivered the speech, while brother Dean, currently coach and GM of the WHL's Swift Current Broncos, played in the Legends' Game on Sunday.

"He was my best friend," Jeff said of his father.

The championship of the Western Hockey League is now named after Ed Chynoweth and this season is dedicated to his memory.

"Kamikaze approach on the forecheck"
The NHL announced Monday that Montreal forward Tom Kostopoulos was suspended for three games after ramming Toronto defenseman Mike Van Ryn face-first into the end boards Saturday night in the Hall of Fame Game. Van Ryn suffered a broken finger and nose, lost several teeth and has a concussion that will keep him out of the lineup for more than a month.

"I have no opinion on it whatsoever," Leafs GM Cliff Fletcher told ESPN.com Monday. "Whatever their decision is, their decision is. My main concern is the health and welfare of the player. Mike missed all but 20 games of the season last year recovering from surgery on his wrist and he was off to such a great start, and just hopefully we'll be able to get him back sooner than later."

Fletcher did say GMs may want to look at ways to keep what he called the "kamikaze approach on the forecheck" under control.

"A player can't change at the last moment. He's committed," Fletcher said.

After the lockout, rules changes cut down on the obstruction of forecheckers by defenders in an effort to create more offensive-zone turnovers and scoring chances.

"What it's also done is make the defenseman going back to get the puck really vulnerable, and I think that's the issue that may need to be addressed for some modification," Fletcher said.

Anderson marches to his own drum
Anderson's former coach in Edmonton, John Muckler, told ESPN.com this week that Anderson definitely marched to a different beat.

"His approach to the game was entirely different, there's no question about that," Muckler said. "He is who he is. He never did anything to hurt the game."

Muckler said he just assumed Anderson would follow closely on the heels of Wayne Gretzky, Jari Kurri, Paul Coffey and the rest of the great Oilers as they made their way into the Hall of Fame.

"I couldn't understand it," he said of the delay to induct Anderson. "He was fearless, absolutely fearless. He was a hockey player, 100 percent. One of the best big-time players in big games that I've ever coached."

Muckler, now an adviser with the Phoenix Coyotes, recalled the Oilers' last Cup win in 1990, when Anderson, Messier and Craig Simpson tore through opponents to win a championship many believed they couldn't capture without Gretzky.

"That's your makeup, that's your mental toughness. Glenn never feared anything. He loved being in the limelight," Muckler said.

Short of a "Miracle"
Larionov came within a whisker of being on the Russian Olympic team that fell to the United States in what would be known as the "Miracle on Ice" at the 1980 Games in Lake Placid (a tournament in which Anderson played for Canada).

Larionov and Vladimir Krutov had just returned from the World Junior Championship, where the Russians captured the gold medal. Russian national team coach Viktor Tikhonov was also the coach of the Red Army team. So, when it came time to fill out his Olympic roster, he chose Krutov, who was with the Red Army program, over Larionov, who was playing with his town team in Voskresensk.

Larionov recalled coming to breakfast during the Olympics, anticipating watching the game on tape delay later that evening. Word came via Voice of America radio that the U.S. team had defeated the powerful Russians 4-3. Larionov still didn't believe it even as he watched the game later that evening. "I still don't believe it," he said. Asked about Tikhonov's decision to pull legendary netminder Vladislav Tretiak in the first period of that game, Larionov calls it the greatest mistake in the history of Russian hockey.

More stories ...
Former netminder Glenn Healy was part of the Rangers team that erased 54 years of Stanley Cup disappointment in New York. He recalled Anderson's arrival, how coach Mike Keenan stayed with the big line of Anderson, Mark Messier and Adam Graves, even when Anderson got off to a slow start.

"He just found ways," Healy said. "You'd watch him cut to the net and figure there'd be no way the puck was going in, but it did."

Healy had more Anderson stories. One had Anderson deciding on the spur of the moment to go on vacation, so off he went with just a toothbrush. Another had Anderson and Paul Coffey showing up at the same exotic vacation spot, completely unaware the other was going to be there.

"Glenn says, 'Hi, Paul,' and just keeps walking," Healy said of the legend of the two players passing each other on a beach. "I don't know if that happened or not, but that's Glenn."

As for Anderson's long absence from the Hall, Healy noted that "most great players have strong personalities." If that personality rubs people the wrong way, it can take time for the Hall selection committee to come around.

Healy's a fan, though.

"I'm wearing a Stanley Cup ring because of him. So, thank you, Glenn."

Regardless of whether the stories are apocryphal or legend, some are undeniably true. Like the day Anderson ran over Ryan Smyth with his car.

Anderson was in Smyth's hometown of Banff, Alberta, for the 1987 Canada Cup training camp. Anderson was nursing an injury, so he worked out at the rink before heading over to the team golf tournament.

Smyth asked if he could come along with Anderson, who agreed. But when Anderson got in his car, he didn't see Smyth anywhere. Thinking he'd gone around to the front of the rink, Anderson backed up his vehicle, more or less, over Smyth.

"He was underneath the tire, tying his shoe up," Anderson told ESPN.com.

There was a minor injury to Smyth's wrist and a telltale tire mark on his shirt. Anderson took the 11-year-old to the local hospital and then to his parents. "He was OK," Anderson said.

The two would actually end up briefly playing together in Edmonton when Anderson returned to the Oilers in 1995-96.

The Ironman of NHL linesmen
Did Ray Scapinello think about the Hockey Hall of Fame when the veteran linesman worked his first game in 1971? Not quite.

"I just wanted to be hired back the next year," he told fans before the induction ceremonies.

One of the reasons for his incredible record of never missing an assignment between 1971 and his retirement 33 years later was his knowledge of the game. He recalled learning from fellow Hall of Famer John D'Amico, who taught him to learn the tendencies of players and the breakout patterns of teams. By doing so, it made it easier for him to stay out of harm's way.

Knowing your hockey history
While North American fans are well aware of the heroes of bygone years, Larionov said there is little connecting today's Russian players with the legends who made the Soviets an international powerhouse for decades. He said he's certain young stars like Alexander Ovechkin have no sense of the players whom Larionov idolized growing up in the 1960s and 1970s.

"To me, that is very sad," said Larionov, who has been instrumental in raising awareness of former players in Russia, especially those players who have fallen on hard times over the years.

Scott Burnside covers the NHL for ESPN.com.

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